Monday, March 14, 2011

Guest Post: Fixed Home Loan - A Popular Choice But Is It The Right One For You?

Fixed home loans are probably the most popular, and considered the least risky, home loan option that you can get. However, this option may not be right for every borrower. Just like an interest only loan is only right for certain people, the same can be said for a fixed rate home loan.

Should You Go With A Fixed Home Loan?
There are a variety of products to choose from in the home loan market. One of the most popular choices and the one that most of you will end up settling on is a fixed home loan. Fixed home loans offer a variety of features that many home buyers find desirable, specifically the stable, fixed interest rate that they offer. There are other options you might use, so look around. If you’re trying to decide if a fixed home loan rate is right for you, then here’s a closer look at what these loans offer you.

The maximum terms of a fixed home loan is thirty years, and features a fixed interest rate for the entirety of the loan. This allows borrowers to lock in a specific interest rate that can never change during the entire course of the loan.

The biggest benefit that comes with fixed home loans is the fact that the interest rate will never change. This means that you will know exactly what your payment is going to be, every single month. It won’t go up, it won’t go down. You will always pay the exact same monthly payment with your fixed home loan rate. With the market the way it is these days, a lot of people love the fact that they know their mortgage payment each month so that they can budget according to that dependable payment.

However, if you’re more comfortable with risks, then you might choose an adjustable rate mortgage. Unlike fixed home loans, these have payments which fluctuate with the official interest rate set by the Federal Reserve. This means you can take advantage of lower payments if you’re sure that you can handle higher payments that are sure to come in the future.

Ask Yourself These Questions To Find Out If A Fixed Rate Loan Is Best For You:
What Can You Afford?
Most borrowers will agree to an adjustable mortgage instead of a fixed home loan because they honestly can’t afford a home loan in the first place. They lie to themselves, saying they’ll be able to handle it later and they talk themselves into the adjustable mortgage, even though they can’t hope to afford it.

How Long Do You Plan To Live There?
The longer that you intend to live in your home, the better the chances you’ll benefit from a fixed home loan. If you go with an adjustable mortgage, you’re eventually going to see your payment go up as the interest rates change over time. However, if you don’t plan to own the home for long, an adjustable rate may be the way to go.

How Comfortable Are You With Risk?
Don’t like risk? Got with fixed home loan. Love risk? Then go with adjustable rate mortgages, but only if you’re confident that you can handle higher payments down the road. If you’re not sure that you can handle the higher payments that come with the higher interest, then you should look into fixed home loans. If you’re not completely sure you’ll be able to handle it, then don’t gamble away your home on the possibility.

Most home buyers will find that fixed rate loans are their best option for a mortgage. They’ll have the stability of knowing their payment every month without having to worry about jumps in their interest rates. This allows people to budget more accordingly, and always know exactly how much money they have at any given point. Adjustable mortgages can quickly throw you when your payment skyrockets in the space of just a few months.

About the Author
This article was written by William from Australia. If you are interested in contributing a guest post to PFStock, please contact the Email address listed in the sidebar.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Guest Post: Why Most People Lose Money Investing In Stocks

The majority of people who ventured into stock investing within the past decade have seen the value of their stock portfolios shrink dramatically. One of the biggest mistakes made by stock investors is to incorrectly assume that investing in stocks will be guaranteed money over the long haul. This is simply not true because the stock market acts irrational on a regular basis. Stock markets, domestic and abroad, share one thing in common: they tend to defy common sense. This article will give you vital information that will hopefully prevent you from becoming a statistic of bad investment decisions.

Since stock markets are created by people, they often exhibit irrational behavior due to the fact that they are simply a reflection of people’s emotions. The up and down oscillations of stock markets mirror the fear and greed present in the investors who make up the market. Because the basic human emotions of fear and greed can cause people to sometimes make irrational decisions, it makes perfect sense that stock markets will also exhibit this same behavior.

Why is it important to understand the role that investor emotions play in stock investing? Because profitable stock investing requires you to have a basic understanding of human psychology in order to help you stay separate from the crowd. When it comes to making money with stocks, the crowd is almost always wrong. In fact, the crowd must be wrong in order for the masses to transfer their wealth to the small minority who do make money.

How do you avoid becoming apart of the incorrect crowd? One way is to try and think contrary to what your initial instincts tell you to do with respect to stock investing. Most investors tend to sell their losing stock positions at a loss during bear markets. This commonly occurs because these investors read the current negative news at the time which ends up scaring them out of their positions. On the contrary, you should be looking to buy more undervalued securities during bear markets. Why? Because the overall U.S. stock market has always bounced back since it’s beginning. The people that make serious money investing in stocks are most concerned with buying stocks at great prices well below their actual value. These situations occur most frequently during bear markets.

Before you invest in any stock, it is important that you get to know the stock and its related industry. Read as much as you can about the stock’s earnings history, past price performance, industry news, and any upcoming product releases. You can find a lot of this information online for free. The more informed you are as an investor, the better investment decisions you will make. The only thing separating successful investors from losing investors is the fact that the former has better information.

Successful investors always manage their expectations in order to avoid making rash and emotional decisions about their stock investments. Avoid setting unrealistic expectations, or you will increase the chance of investing in overly risky companies. Prudent investors acknowledge that although certain companies offer extremely high rewards, the corresponding risks may be too much to stomach. Instead, focus on buying stocks in high quality stable companies that are earnings leaders or rising stars in their respective industries.

Companies that are releasing hot new products in untapped markets are great stock candidates. Wouldn’t you have loved to bought some stock in Apple well before the release of the iPhone? If you can find out this information well beforehand on solid established companies, you can potentially reduce your risk of investing in one hit wonders. A good sign of an established company is one which has been out-performing the overall stock market over recent years while pay a steady dividend.

Last but not least, always diversify your holdings. Have you ever heard the expression, “never put all your eggs in one basket”? This is one of the best pieces of advice when it comes to stock investing. Investing your dollars across several different and unrelated stocks will effectively spread the risk. It is important to invest in several different stocks simultaneously because this prevents you from having all of your investment capital in only one company. Not only should you diversify across stocks, but you should also diversify across industries and investment instruments (ex., treasury bonds). For example, simultaneously investing in energy stocks, retail stocks, health care stocks, and treasury bonds would be an adequate form of diversification.

About the Author
Monti Simmons is a private trader who has been trading since the 90’s. He is also the creator of the popular Carnivore day trading software that makes it easy for individuals to succeed at day trading using fibonacci trading principles.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Guest Post: How to Lower Your Property Taxes

Owning your own home has been a dream of many people since this country was conceived. It is a form of freedom--to be the Lord and Master of your own domain. Unfortunately, it is costing more and more to hold on to that dream. Property taxes are on the rise, with no sign of relief in sight. If you're like a lot of people, you're always looking for ways to lower your property taxes. These tips may help.

Who Levies Property Tax
In looking for ways to cut your tax burden, it's important to understand who makes the rules. Property taxes are generally levied on the local level, usually by a municipal or county assessor. The assessor uses a set of rules determined by the local government to place a monetary value on your property. A portion of that value is what you owe for your property tax. Using a complicated system of property value and improvement value, the amount is determined. It is usually somewhere in the neighborhood of .5% to 4%. Some states are less, others are more. If you feel you're being overcharged--i.e. you think your property is overvalued--there are steps you can take to try and lower the property tax.

Learn the Rules
The first thing you should do if you think your property is overvalued is to find out how the assessment was made. Learn the criteria that were used to determine the property value. The best way is to contact your local tax office and speak to the assessor directly, by phone or in person. Ask them to explain how they came to the conclusion they did--what their system is to assign a taxable value.

Check Their Work
After you've found out how your property was evaluated you need to go over the information and determine whether or not a mistake was made in valuing your property. If the assessor simply made an error, then you can appeal and more than likely have your evaluation reduced. If all the assessor's calculations are factually correct, the next step would be to look into the comps--properties of comparable value. Many municipalities use comps to assess the value of your property. If you feel the comps the assessor used are unrealistic you can challenge the appraisal.

File an Appeal
In order to prove the assessors valuation was incorrect, you will have to compile a list of comparable value properties you feel more accurately reflect your property's true value. You'll be expected to present your appeal to an appeals board and explain why you feel the evaluation was inaccurate. Contact real estate agents and tell them your problem. They will be an invaluable resource in finding comparable homes in your area that will prove your property was overvalued. Put together a file that contains all the information you gather, including pictures of your comps. If your appeal is granted and your taxes are lowered, the price you pay the real estate agent will be well worth it.

Tax Deductions
Even if your appeal is denied there are ways of lowering your property tax--well it may not actually lower the tax, but you'll save some money nonetheless. By doing certain home improvements you can claim them as deductions on your federal income tax, and possibly on state taxes as well. Ask your accountant or tax attorney for suggestions on ways to take advantage of any deductions that may be available. If spending the money on an improvement to your home will actually save you money in the long run, you'll get a double benefit from it--the initial tax deduction and the prolonged use of whatever improvements you make.

About the Author
Guest post from Bailey Harris, who writes about car insurance. If you are interested in writing a guest post, please contact PF Stock at the Email address listed in the sidebar.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Guest Post: When Does a Hobby Become a Business?

If you or someone you know is a regular crafter, you may be familiar with the concept of selling crafted wares at fairs, school booths, websites like or, or to people in general. However, did you know that your crafting hobby could actually be a business and therefore require you to acknowledge it in your taxes this year? If you have been making and selling your wares since at least last year, it is important for you to determine whether your hobby is still just a hobby (that happens to earn you a few dollars here and there), or whether it should be classified as a business.

Strictly speaking, a hobby is an activity that is conducted without the intent of earning a profit, whereas a business is any activity that is conducted for the purpose of making money. However, it can be tricky deciding exactly where your crafting hobby stands because some people craft and only earn a few dollars while others may earn hundreds. To determine what your hobby actually is, consider the following guidelines offered by the IRS:

Does your time and effort indicate an intention to make a profit? If you have devoted hours of each day into working and selling your wares, then you very well may have a business and not a hobby on your hands.

Do you depend on your crafting profits? If you need the money you earn from your hobby to support you and your family, then your hobby may actually be a business.

Have you ever changed anything in your hobby to make it more profitable? If you have ever made changes specifically to increase your crafting profitability, then you may be dealing with a business.

Do you know how to turn your hobby into a profitable one? This guideline is more vague, but if you or your spouse know how to turn your hobby into a fully functional business, such as if you already own a textile business and you sell custom garments on the side, then the IRS will be more likely to view your hobby as a business.

Does this hobby actually earn money? This one is simple if your crafting does not earn any money, then you do not have a business. However, if it does, no matter how small the amount, then you may have to classify it as a business.

Knowing where your crafting habit stands is important because every year, the incorrect adjustments and deductions of hobby-related businesses add up to approximately $30 billion in unpaid taxes, according to the IRS. In addition, those whose hobbies classify as businesses will need to obtain a local business license and state sales tax permit to legally operate. You may also be able to deduct business expenses on your tax returns, helping to save you some money that way. All in all, it is essential for you to correctly determine whether your hobby is just a hobby (where all of your sales are casual and isolated) or a business (where your sales are planned) so that you do not incur any legal ramifications.

About the Author
Lauren Bailey is a freelance writer who particularly enjoys writing about online colleges. She loves receiving reader feedback, which can be directed to: blauren99